Better than I Deserve
Father, open our eyes to see what great love You have for us and how You long to draw us near to Yourself with blessing.
Read Jeremiah 31:1-22
 “At that time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”  This is what the LORD says: “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”  The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.  I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.  Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.  There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.'”  This is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’  See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return.  They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.  “Hear the word of the LORD, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’  For the LORD will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.  They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD- the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.  Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the LORD.  This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”  This is what the LORD says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD. “They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the LORD. “Your children will return to their own land.  “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God.  After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’  Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.  “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns.  How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The LORD will create a new thing on earth- the woman will return to the man.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat is the most precious promise you see here?
The people had been living a lie. Like a car dashboard, a “religion dashboard” would have shown that all external key performance indicators were good–festivals observed, public prayers offered…. And yet their hearts lusted after idols. They had placed themselves directly in the stormy path of God’s just judgment (30:23). Fiercer than a hurricane, more devastating than a tsunami, God’s wrath had broken the nation. And yet, despite their adultery, God had not abandoned his people. He loved them with an everlasting love (3). Now he would bless and direct them (21,22). The distraught would be comforted (15-17). A new era would be defined by joyfulness and fruitfulness (10-14). Their holy God would even delight in them (20). Having cheated on God by spiritually sleeping around, Israel had called down God’s wrath. But did they deserve his tenderness? Why should God be so merciful and so kind? I wonder how different I am, how different we are, compared to Israel. And yet the storm of God’s judgment has fallen on Jesus at the cross, and we have received undeserved mercy (Rom. 11:22).
Consider the gifts of God’s grace (the favor he gives that we do not deserve) in your life. Thank your Father for his love.
God, You have loved us with a love that never ends. Your compassion is beyond all I could comprehend.
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